Houston developer Giorgio Borlenghi began work this week on the Hotel Granduca Austin, an Italian-styled luxury hostelry that will command some of the highest nightly rates in Texas. Built on a hillside site in West Austin, the nine-story, 194-room boutique hotel is scheduled to be completed late next year, near the northwest corner of Bee Caves Road and Loop 360.
Granduca will compete in a rarified league with the Four Seasons and a handful of other Austin hotels in the highest tier of room rate, service and luxury amenities. Room rates are expected to be $300 a night or more.
The new hotel will be the second hotel bearing the Granduca brand name. The original Hotel Granduca, which has an average daily rate of $340, opened eight years ago near Houston’s Galleria and is on our list of the best hotels in Texas. Hotel Granduca Austin is a joint venture between Borlenghi’s Houston-based Interfin Companies LP and Riverside Resources of Austin.
“It’s in an area of town that’s underserved by hotels. It’s only 15 minutes away from downtown and from UT,” says Hotel Granduca owner Giorgio Borlenghi.
Austin is by far the strongest hotel market in Texas, with citywide room rates and an average occupancy rate of 75 percent, which is basically as good as it gets, says hotel consultant Bruce Walker of Source Strategies. The only city to come close to Austin is Houston, with a 69 percent occupancy rate, but other major Texas cities are far behind Austin.
“Austin is a very, very vibrant and amazing hotel market,” Borlenghi says.
Location, location, location
At first, Borlenghi began looking in downtown Austin for a new hotel site. But large parcels were not available, and several major new hotels are currently under construction downtown, including the 1,000-room J.W. Marriott.
He soon located this Westlake area site off Bee Caves Road and marked out the five acres for planting the Granduca hotel flag.
“It’s in an area of town that’s underserved by hotels. It’s only 15 minutes away from downtown and from UT,” Borlenghi says. “It gives us the opportunity to create our own market and something different, offering a real alternative to people traveling to Austin.”
Borlenghi, who was born in Italy, says the hotel will have an in-house restaurant featuring northern Italian cuisine similar to the Houston hotel’s Ristorante Cavour – recently named one of the best Italian restaurants in Houston.
Gromatzky, Dupree & Associates of Dallas is the architect for the Austin hotel. Ermy Borlenghi Bonfield of 3-E Designs Inc. of Houston, Giorgio Borlenghi’s sister, is handling interior design of the property; his son, Alex Borlenghi, who graduated from UT last year, is working on the hotel as vice president of development for Interfin.
Room rates for the Hotel Granduca Austin have not been established. But Borlenghi says he hopes transport to Austin the success he’s had with the Hotel Granduca in Houston, one of the top-grossing hotels in the state, in the all-important “revenue per available room” yardstick used by the hospitality industry.
“The four most successful hotels in Texas are the Four Seasons in Austin, the Hotel Granduca in Houston, the W in Austin and the Driskill in Austin,” Borlenghi says. “The average daily rate we have in Houston is $340, which is really at the top of the market. Austin’s Granduca will be quite similar.”
The Hotel Granduca in Houston is a member of “The Leading Hotels of the World,” a designation sought for the Austin property as well. Borlenghi says the long-range goal is to expand the Granduca brand to other markets in Texas and around the nation.